Faculty travel internationally to provide music therapy and speech-language pathology workshop

Two Radford University faculty members are planning travel to Helsinki, Finland, this summer to present a workshop during the pre-conference seminar for the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Commission on Special Music Education and Music Therapy Conference.

The workshop, “Music Therapy and Speech Language Pathology: Working with Children in an Early Childhood Program,” is a collaboration between Corey Cassidy, Ph.D., associate dean of the Waldron College of Health and Human Services and professor of communication sciences and disorders, and Patricia Winter, Ph.D., associate professor of music and director of the music therapy program.

The workshop will be based on research they have conducted in southwest Virginia for six years.

Corey Cassidy, Ph.D.
Corey Cassidy, Ph.D.

Bringing music and speech together to benefit children

“I’m a pediatric speech-language pathologist and have been running a program for groups of young children with communication disorders between the ages of one and five,” Cassidy said. “When Dr. Winter came on board at Radford University, she got on the Radford website and looked for people doing research that fit with hers. She reached out to me, said she was new to the University, was a music therapist and would love to collaborate.”

They began working together on research that focused on integrating music therapy into the preschool language lab Cassidy had been running. For approximately six years, they have provided an “immersive interprofessional experience” with groups of children between the ages of 18 months and five years old, each with diagnosed communication, speech and/or language disorder, including autism, Down syndrome, receptive and expressive language disorders, articulation disorders, hearing impairment and more.

Patricia Winter, Ph.D.
Patricia Winter, Ph.D.

“The four-week program is free and held during the summer, with sessions lasting about 2½ hours twice a week,” Cassidy said. “There are four different groups of six children each, and we have three graduate students in speech-language pathology, who coordinate the program and are assigned to different children. We also assign a music therapy student to each group to coordinate and collaborate with the speech-language pathology students.”

Cassidy said that, near the end of the program, the speech-language pathology and music therapy students switch roles, so they can understand what each team member brings to the program. As a result, Cassidy said that she and Winter have been able to collect data not only on the outcomes of the clients’ progress and caregiver responses, but also on the student perspectives of the interprofessional education they get through the program.

Sharing their research with an international audience

The primary focus of the upcoming conference is music therapy; however, the organizers are very interested in incorporating aspects of interprofessional education.

“We’re going to address best practices in the literature, but we are also going to incorporate the outcomes we’ve experienced and what has really worked for us over the years,” Cassidy said. “We’ve both presented at national conferences independently on the topic, but this will be the first time we come together to present internationally. It’s very exciting, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve found with others, on an international scale.”     

The pre-conference seminar will be at the University of Helsinki from July 29, 2020 through August 1, 2020, and is hosted by ISME.

Mar 11, 2020
Mark Lambert